6 Things I Got Wrong In My First 12 Months As A Content Creator
And, 5 Things I Got Right
Exactly one year ago, I started writing consistently on LinkedIn.
Here are the 6 things I got wrong.
1. My Content Was Unfocused
I wrote primarily about the lessons I learned progressing from an analyst to executive role.
Sometimes I wrote about communication. Then interviewing. Negotiation. Team work. Navigating a tough boss. War stories from the startup I built.
This made it hard for my audience to know what to expect. It’s hard to follow a creator who may write about one of ten topics. When people are confused, they move on.
Despite this, I added more than 2,200 connections/followers, nearly doubling my network. Had I dialed-in more narrowly on a niche, I think I would have grown more.
2. I Didn’t Close Posts With A Crisp Call To Action
Big accounts often close with something like “if you liked this post, follow to see more content on [topic].”
Most of these people are full-time creators who monetize their audience. Making this ask (or not) is a high-stakes decision for them.
I’m writing while employed full-time at a fintech company. I’m not trying to monetize my audience. Asking people to follow me every single day in my posts felt unnecessary and a little awkward. So, I (mostly) avoided it.
My regret was failing to test it systematically. I’d like to have an idea of how many followers (and views) I’m leaving on the table by not closing with a strong CTA.
3. I Didn’t Get A Professional Headshot (or Avatar)
For most of last year I posted with a picture I took in my backyard. It lacked color. It wasn’t polished. It probably didn’t signal “this guy is taking LinkedIn seriously, I should follow him.”
Later, I changed it out for a cropped image from a family portrait. It was a little better, but it still didn’t signal that I’m someone worth following.
A few days ago I used an AI app (Lensa) to generate my current avatar. It’s technically an AI-rendered illustration, but it has a picture-like quality and looks more polished than what I had before. I’m not sure its my “forever” headshot, but it’ll do for now.
My follows are already up, and I’ve gotten positive feedback from a few friends (and 1 Newsletter subscriber)!
This was a silly thing to screw up.
4. I Didn’t Write Enough Long-Form Content
Long-form posts (4-7 minute reads, like this article) get me thinking more deeply, are fun to write, and create fodder for future LinkedIn posts.
Long-form writing also helps build domain expertise and are more easily sharable (I think) than LinkedIn posts.
Last year I wrote about 20 long-from articles, and I’d like to increase that to one longer piece per week.
5. I Routinely Violated The 24 Hour Rule
The rule (that I made up):
Wait 24 hours after you draft something to edit it. Only after you’ve read (and edited) content with fresh eyes are you allowed to share it with the world.
I posted a little too much “OK” but not great content last year. And, I still catch myself wanting to post something that’s not ready.
I get excited by new drafts and I want to see how the post performs IMMEDIATELY. I want to see how many views, likes, and comments it’ll get. It sounds stupid, but it’s true.
But, on the other side of that, my writing gets SO MUCH better when it sits 24 hours before editing. It gets tighter, more organized, and easier to read. It’s an absolute no-brainer to post something 24 hours later if it’ll be 2X better.
I’m still trying to get my monkey brain to stop posting every sentence the second after it’s written.
6. I Didn’t Use AI To Drive Efficiency
I wrote and edited all of my posts. I came up with all of the ideas. I worked hard on this.
But, I worked too hard.
The last 6 months or so has seen a rapid acceleration in AI tools that can help content creators write, edit, and generate ideas.
I look forward to experimenting with some of these tools this year. I’ll be starting with ChatGPT and Taplio.
Thanks tofor getting Taplio on my radar.
It’s easy to see the places where I missed in hindsight.
But, I’m glad I jumped in and started taking action. I wouldn’t have learned anything from the sidelines.
Some of the things I think I got right include:
Posting frequently & building a daily writing habit
Commenting & liking other LI content (helping build relationships with others)
Writing themed post series - failed startup, poker stories, card affiliate lessons
These were memorable, based on feedback from my network
Using Shield App to track all my engagement metrics
Taking two long (14-21 day) breaks when I felt burnt out
Most importantly, I built relationships with dozens of inspiring people I met through being more active on LinkedIn. If you’re reading this Newsletter, odds are good you’re one of those people. That, by itself, made the entire process worth it.
Vanity Metrics From Year 1:
0.96% engagement rate (likes+comments / views)
I’d Love To Hear From You
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I’d love to know how this Newsletter could be more useful to you.
In the next edition, I’ll be writing about my plans for year 2 on LinkedIn.
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